A new AODA requirement for Ontario websites will come into force on January 1st, 2021. Under the Information and Communications Standards, organizations must make their websites and web-based apps accessible. Organizations must do so by making their websites compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA. This international standard gives web developers guidelines on how to make their webpages accessible to computer users with disabilities. Moreover, accessible websites must be compatible with hardware and software that make computers and other smart devices accessible. Here we outline some hardware that supports web accessibility.
Hardware that Supports Web Accessibility
Accessible hardware devices connect to computers, tablets, or phones. People use them to input and perceive information in different ways.
Screens and Displays
People who read large print may use large monitors to view more information at a time. In contrast, people who read Braille may read their computer or phone screens using refreshable Braille displays. These displays present the screen in Braille, one line at a time. Readers can scroll using buttons and keys on the display, or using keyboards connected to their computers or smart devices.
People may use different kinds of keyboards to meet their individual accessibility needs, such as:
- One-handed keyboards
- Large-key keyboards
Alternatively, people may use key guards, frames that fit over a keyboard with a hole for each key. This set-up ensures that people type only one key at a time.
In addition, people may use positioning supports to type in comfortable positions or change positions when they need to. For instance, people may use:
- Ergonomic keyboards
- Wrist supports
- Adjustable keyboard trays
Some people use different kinds of pointing devices, instead of traditional mice. Trackballs are larger than traditional mice, and people can operate them with their thumbs, palms, or feet as well as their fingers. Other alternative mice include:
- Touch pads or touch screens
- Light pens
- Head pointers
- Mouth sticks
Some people may also use these devices, or eye-tracking systems, as alternatives for keyboards as well as mice.
In contrast, other people may never use mice. Instead, they operate their computers using keyboard commands, such as:
- Clicking with the enter key or the space bar
- Opening menus with the alt key and moving through them with the arrow keys
- Selecting menu items directly with multi-key shortcuts
- Moving between web links with the tab key
- Moving between headings, buttons, or edit fields with single-key or multi-key shortcuts
Our next article will outline software programs that support web accessibility.